Jim Breen's WWWJNAMES Server
First let's see if your server can display Japanese characters. If the following are a square
and a circle, you can: 囗 〇. If not, you can try using the server via a special portal.
(If you know the following information, and are ready to start entering some names, go straight to the server.)
Another server you might like to try is the similar Your Name in Japanese.
And a new server is JapaneseNameTranslation, which does automatic rendering of your full name into katakana.
(It also has interactive Flash hiragana and katakana writing tutorials, and
information about calligraphy and hanging scrolls.)
( NB: If you don't know how
Western names are written in Japanese, please read the
information below before you try to use the server.)
Before we go a centimeter further, you should look at Eri Takase's
Names in Japanese
page. Eri has over 2,400 names spelt out in Japanese, along with
their Japanese translation as in (a) below. These include the top 2,400
names in the US Census, so about 80% of given names are covered.
Eri also has written interesting articles on How to Write Names in
Japanese (Part 1) and
Here are some other useful links to other sites which discuss Japanese names:
OK, you are still with me?
Western names may be written in Japanese several ways:
[By the way, in this page and in my server you will see a lot of Japanese
spelt out using "romaji", that is the letters of the Latin alphabet. There
are several methods for romaji, but the one I will use on this page is the
Hepburn romaji system, named after the Rev. Dr Hepburn, who invented it in the
- sometimes when the name actually has a meaning, e.g. Jonathan means
"God-given" or Wheelwright means "wheel-maker", the name can be
translated into the actual Japanese word. This is pretty rare, and I
won't go into it here. (Eri Takase's WWW page "Names in Japanese",
linked above, has some useful examples of such names in Japanese.)
- sometimes people like spelling out their name using Japanese kanji
which are often associated with such phonetic renderings. For example, my
friend Jack Halpern writes his name: 春遍 雀來 which is pronounced
"HARUPEN JAKKU". Again, this is not common and I won't go into it further.
There are some books around which explain how to concoct such names.
One such is "Write Your Name in Kanji", by Nobuo Sato, published by Tuttle
Yenbooks, 2-6, Suido 1-Chome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112. Amazon stocks it.
- by far the most common method is to transliterate the name into the
Japanese katakana script. For example, I write my name
ジム・ブリーン, which is JIMU BURIIN. (The "ー" marks an extended vowel.)
It is this method that which my server supports, and which I will explain
The most important thing to recognize is that katakana is not
an alphabet. It is a "syllabary", i.e. each symbol represents a syllable. Some
syllabaries are quite complex (most have died out), but the Japanese ones are
relatively straightforward. Katakana (and "hiragana", which is the other
Japanese syllabary) consist of:
Just to make things a little more complex, there are a few other things:
- five vowels: a, e, i, o u (surprise, surprise.)
- a single solo consonant: n.
- forty consonant+vowel syllables: ka, so, na, mi, etc. etc.
In all, the repertoire of sounds available in Japanese is rather more limited
than in English. Below are the basic sounds available to you to convert your
name into Japanese. You will need to break your name into its basic components
and pick out the matching syllables to use. This takes practice, as
Smith becomes "SUMISU" (there is no "th"), Sydney becomes "SHIDONI-", etc. etc.
Some are quite bizarre; Claire is "KURE-RU" and Perth is "PA-SU". Note that
when consonants run together in English, the Japanese equivalent usually
is the one with the "u" sound, as this is the most neutral.
- some marks which can be attached to the symbols which change the sound.
For example, a little
circle on the ヒ (hi) symbol, i.e. ピ, makes it sound "pi", and two strokes
on certain syllables make them voiced, e.g. キ is "ki" and ギ is "gi".
(These are known as "diacritic marks". English doesn't use them, but other
languages: French, German, Polish, etc. do.)
- combined sounds which are produced by adding a small version of the
"yo", "ya" or "yu" symbol to some other symbols, e.g. キョ is "kyo" and
ニュ is "nyu".
- there is a type of double-consonant, which is written using a
small "tsu" symbol before a syllable. For example, Jack would be
JAKKU (ジャック). Note the ッ, which is a small version of ツ.
- vowels can be lengthened by adding a ー symbol.
- often between (Western) given names and surnames, a `・' marker is used to
show the division(s).
Oh, and if you didn't know, there is no real "l" in Japanese. There is a
sound somewhere between an "r" and an "l", and in romanized Japanese it is
written with an "r". So Larry becomes "RARI-"
These are the sounds:
- ba be bi bo bu bya bye byo byu
- cha che chi cho chu
- da de di do du dya dyo dyu dzi
- fa fe fi fo fu fya fye fyo fyu
- ga ge gi go gu gya gye gyo gyu
- ha he hi ho hya hye hyo hyu
- ja je ji jo ju
- ka ke ki ko ku kya kye kyo kyu
- ma me mi mo mu mya mye myo myu
- n na ne ni no nu nya nye nyo nyu
- pa pe pi po pu pya pye pyo pyu
- ra re ri ro ru rya rye ryo ryu
- sa se sha she shi sho shu so su
- ta te to tsu
- va ve vi vo vu
- ya ye yo yu
- za ze zi zo zu
You can now go off to the server. Experiment
a bit, and come back here to check the table of syllables.